The first evidences of the winemaking in the Jewish history appear in the Old and New Testament.
“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works”. Ecclesiastes 9:7
“My mother’s sons were angry with me and made me take care of the vineyards; my own vineyard I had to neglect” Song of Solomon 1:6.
“and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now. What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” John 2:9-11.
These quotes, of course, are not historical proofs, but they give the general idea of the history of the Jews and grapes.
The development of Israeli culture and cultivating vineyards started in IV-III century B.C.
During the rule of the Romans, local wines were exported to other provinces and even to the capital of the Roman Empire. Wine was used in various Jewish religious rituals. Vineyards existed even in the dry desert areas of Israel, for example around the Nabataean city of Avdat in the Negev.
After the Roman Empire and then Byzantium, the production of the wine came to a complete standstill. Since the mid of VII century the rule of the Arabs began in this region. It is well known that alcohol is strictly forbidden according Koran, thus many vineyards were destroyed during that period.
The rebirth of winemaking begins in the XIX century with the arrival of the British in Palestine. The wine wasn’t of the best quality, which was confirmed by the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1870: “This wine is more like a medicine”. But nevertheless, it was a beginning of the Israeli winemaking revival.
There is still a winery in Jerusalem that was opened by Rabbi Shore in 1848. In 1870 the Teperberg family opened a second vineyard called “Efrat”, and it also exists to the present day. Later came the wineries based on European technologies.
Perhaps, the most important and crucial moment of the modern Israeli winemaking comes in 1882, when Baron Edmund de Rotschild founded the winery “Carmel” in Zichron Yaakov. He bought modern French equipment and huge oak barrels. The wine production developed very successfully, but the wine almost completely went for export.
The next attempt to produce good quality wine in Israel was made only in 1982, by the Californian winemakers. The first crop of “Sauvignon Blanc” was harvested in the Golan Heights. This quality wine was received for the first time of the Israeli winemaking. The winery “Ramat Ha Golan” was created in 1983 due to that success.
Soon, the wine “Cabernet Sauvignon’’ of the series “Yarden” harvested in 1984 received the first prize at the International Exhibition in Paris. The first victory was followed by many others. Wine series “Yarden” and “Gamla” quickly became popular in the world.
The commercial success of the “Ramat Ha Golan” winery made old large manufacturers to reconstruct their production, improve the quality of the wines and also enter the international market. But regardless of them since the late ‘80s medium and small wineries began to appear. Their common name – winery boutiques comes from the USA, where a similar phenomenon occurred in the 70’s. Today in Israel there are more than 250 vineyards. In spite of the short history, the names of some of them have already become brands and many more are on their way to the stage.
Currently the wine industry of Israel is of great interest among the professionals of the wine market.
To try Israeli wines from our website, click here: Wines of Israel.